Faculty training for online teachers in three rural Alabama community colleges: a multiple case study
Online education is providing community colleges opportunities to reach students through the use of technological advances. These technological advances have allowed faculty to develop new teaching skills and transfer these skills into pedagogical practices in an online environment. Faculties who have taught in the online environment have developed, through training, the knowledge and expertise in the teaching strategies which have become common in online education. The purpose of this study was to examine how the training instructors receive support their teaching classes in an online environment at community colleges. This research study followed a qualitative research design; a collective case study that included administrators who made the decisions for online education, trainers who provided professional development training, and faculty who had taught online classes at community colleges. In response to the overarching question that guided this study, "How does professional development training influence faculty teaching online at Alabama's rural community colleges?" this study found that technological skills and familiarity with online education theories and pedagogies facilitated the transfer of pedagogical strategies from the training to their online classes. The study found that when faculty received training incorporating online pedagogical strategies, the online teaching practices taught during the training were transferred to their online classes. This study also made clear that the instructors' interest in online education was a driving force for the establishment of formal professional development training programs at their institution. The results of this study can inform all community colleges on the need for professional development training, inform innovations in faculty training for online teaching, and encourage further research in the area of training for online teaching and learning.